Ontario's chief medical officer of health says mask mandates will be removed by the end of March as long as positive public health trends continue.
Dr. Kieran Moore says the province can "only mandate masking for so long," with the risk from COVID-19 decreasing.
He says Ontario has a very high vaccination rate, hospitalizations have been declining, and he believes the worst is behind us.
However, he says that due to limited access to PCR testing, the true number of daily new COVID-19 cases can be estimated by multiplying the number of positive tests by 10, meaning there could be more than 22,000 new cases today.
Moore also says directives that the Ontario Public Service and colleges and universities require unvaccinated employees to undergo regular testing have been rescinded, and he is looking at the directives for health-care and education.
Ontario is reporting 834 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 267 in intensive care.
It's a slight decrease from Wednesday, when the province said there were 847 people in hospital and 278 in intensive care.
The province is also recording 17 new deaths from the virus Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2022.